ARLINGTON – Brett Smith won’t win many foot races or wow the crowd with 60-yard heaves.
But if you want a quarterback who will consistently deliver the ball on time and in tight spaces, Smith is your guy.
“I kind of have to rely on accuracy,” the Arlington High School senior said. “Anywhere from 5 to 15 yards, I feel like I can put it where it needs to be.”
Michael O’Leary / The Herald
Arlington quarterback Brett Smith threw for 2,494 yards and 18 touchdowns this season to lead the Eagles to the Class 4A state
No arguments here.
In his first season as Arlington’s starting quarterback, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Smith completed an astonishing 64.6 percent of his passes (181-for-280) for 2,494 yards and 18 touchdowns. For wielding an unusually accurate touch and for providing invaluable leadership that helped Arlington go 10-2 and reach the Class 4A state quarterfinals, Smith is The Herald’s All-Area Offensive Football Player of the Year.
Arlington coach John Boitano joked that Smith looks more likely to be in the band than a star on the field, but Smith’s football skills are genuine.
“He doesn’t have a great, strong arm, but he throws a really catchable ball,” Boitano said. “He makes good receivers out of guys because he puts (the ball) where they want it to be.”
Many of Smith’s completions came on quick timing throws that let Arlington receivers Tim Acker, Andy Cohoon and Thomas Payne use their speed and elusiveness.
“We had all the weapons for our offense to be successful,” said Smith, who took almost every junior-varsity snap last season as he waited patiently behind former Arlington QB Kenny Gunter.
Deflecting questions about his own talent, Smith happily complimented his receivers, running backs and linemen.
“I just felt so lucky to be amongst all of them,” he said. “Everybody in the offense is so talented.”
Quarterbacks sometimes have reputations for hogging the spotlight, but Smith avoids that stereotype while maintaining respect as a leader.
“He’s one of a kind,” Boitano said. “The coolest kid in school or the dorkiest guy in school can totally relate to Brett. He’s a friendly leader to everybody. But for being such a nice guy, when he has to take charge he takes charge.”
One of those take-charge moments came against Marysville-Pilchuck. Arlington trailed 21-17 with just a few minutes to play when Smith guided the Eagles on a game-winning 76-yard TD drive. Arlington won 24-21 to improve to 7-0 and took an important step in a season full of tense moments.
“That was definitely a turning point for us,” Smith said. “We really started to believe after that.”
The comeback victory exposed Smith’s considerable poise.
“Even when things are going bad, he’s always looking for something,” Boitano said. “There’s no give-up in him.”
When times got tough, Smith stayed calm in the huddle. “I just tried not to show any fear in my eyes,” he said.
Arlington’s 28-14 season-ending loss to Puyallup in the state quarterfinals closed the book on a special run for the Eagles, but Smith hopes it’s not his final chapter as a quarterback.
“Football was the highlight of my life,” he said, “so I really want to keep playing.”
Boitano said college coaches should take a chance on Smith, who lacks the size and speed some so-called experts salivate over but offers plenty.
“He gets a lot of things done with his heart and his mind,” Boitano said. “I’d take a quarterback like that any time, anywhere.”